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It’s time to make the WNBA relevant

A look at barriers holding the WNBA back and how they can be fixed.

WNBA All-Star Game 2014 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The WNBA isn’t necessarily relevant in today’s basketball world. Ask any basketball fan to name ten WNBA players and they probably can’t name six. Sure, it can be argued that the WNBA isn’t popular due to it being “less competitive” or “not fun to watch,” but if you’re a fan of one of the NBA teams tanking right now (like one-third of the league), neither of those are actually legitimate arguments.

The real question to be asked here is why aren’t the organizations and people surrounding this league doing more to help it succeed?

The WNBA needs more fans, followers, and respect so that their elite athletes can be paid like elite athletes and don’t have to work second jobs. Below are three barriers that are holding the WNBA back, and suggestions on how the organizations surrounding this league can help change it.

Exposure

People can’t like things they don’t know about. That’s why there are whole programs in this world dedicated to marketing products and reaching consumers. Right now, the WNBA doesn’t have many consumers. Even high school aged student athletes who want to reach the next level know almost nothing about this league.

So how can we expose young athletes and basketball fans? My first suggestion is that the NBA (who owns the WNBA) should combine both leagues’ All Star Weekends. This might include a co-ed game, battle of the sexes match, or perhaps a 3 on 3 tournament.

Either way, the NBA has to better introduce basketball fans to the WNBA, and All Star Weekend is a great way to attract young consumers.

Timing of the Season

Currently the WNBA season runs from May to September, which is during the summer. There is a reason why most good television series don’t come out in the summer, and that’s because there is an increase in competition for peoples free time. The WNBA cannot be relevant if people don’t watch it. And people won’t watch it as long as there’s a half-good BBQ at the neighbors.

The NBA needs to reschedule the WNBA’s season so that the league’s playoffs happen just before the NBA’s and right after the NCAA tournament. This way, the WNBA wouldn’t be competing with as many outside activities, and their playoffs would fix that basketball fan depression that occurs between the NCAA tournament and the NBA Playoffs (win, win, win).

Outside Sponsorships

Yes, there are companies that currently sponsor the WNBA. However, I’m talking about the only sponsors that matter in basketball. Shoe Companies.

Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, or Jordan brand needs to make a signature sneaker for a WNBA player. It’s 2018, and there are thousands of little girls out there ballin’ in men’s shoes. They are wearing sneakers that tell them to ball like Kyrie Irving or Stephen Curry, when they need shoes that are telling them to look up to Maya Moore or Breanna Stewart. These companies shouldn’t be promoting equality under their name as long as they’re only selling men’s signature sneakers to little girls.

And if not, the NBA players with signature sneakers should insist on doing it themselves. If LeBron can partner with Kith on a shoe, then whey can’t he partner with Elena Delle Donne?